The BBC and Channel 4 have made a joint speech to British parliamentarians calling for an update to the rules surrounding the prominence of public service broadcasters in the digital age.
They’re seeking protected PSB prominence on the first page for any significant device including smart TVs, games consoles and set-top boxes.
In a move also backed by ITV and Channel 5, BBC director-general Tony Hall said the current law was out of date. “Connected TVs are already changing the norms – allowing platforms and manufacturers to relegate or bypass the channel listings – that’s already having an effect.”
Lord Hall has three areas of concern; that British voices and public service content will be lost in what is an increasingly global market; everyone should have access to news and analysis they trust and the diminishing importance of TV to a younger audience who already spend more time online.
“We need Ofcom to conduct their review into prominence as soon as possible. This is an urgent and growing issue and we need them to act.”
Lord Hall’s comments were supported by Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon who said audiences clearly wanted to watch the kind of programmes that support Britain’s democratic values.
“Ofcom has found that PSBs have an incredibly high and rising satisfaction rate with audiences – their most recent audience research found that 78% of viewers said they were very or quite satisfied with public service broadcasting.
“When you plug a streaming stick in to a TV, what gets promoted is what the manufacturer wants to push to you. Of course many of the providers of these streaming sticks or set top boxes also provide their own content offerings – which of course come front and centre.”
She questioned which news provider might be given to a user who asked a voice command device for the latest news headlines and whether it might be the BBC, Channel 4 or Russia Today.